Barbara Stratmann.

Being an artist and sharing my works with the world makes me feel privileged and deeply grateful – particularly since I never thought this could be my path.

Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.

Salvador Dalí

I always loved to create things, but I started painting only a decade ago – originally simply out of curiosity: striving to find out how other artists create those beautiful structures and color effects I admired so much in a painting a very close artist friend created for me.

Creativity takes courage.

Henri Matisse

Hence, I started experimenting, and in the process, I discovered that painting can actually be an emotional outlet and new way of expressing my feelings and thoughts, like a new language, translating emotions into shapes, textures and colors. As the emotional person that I am, I found that painting can be not only extremely stimulating, joyful and relaxing, but also helpful to heal mental wounds and to resolve emotional struggles. I experienced that I can lose myself in the process of creating an abstract painting, ignoring any rules, and completely forgetting about time and place.

When I start a new project, I like to create a clear basic composition for my paintings, often almost geometrical, but many of the details are unplanned and happen almost accidentally, covering up and taking away the initial rigidness of the composition. That is what I like – it is just like in nature itself: there’s always a balance: rigidness versus flexibility, strength versus fragility, decay versus new beginnings – if you are willing to just let it happen.

Speaking of decay, I’ve always seen a certain beauty in decay, and am experimenting a lot with rust and marble powder, also because the rusting process or the process of marble powder paste drying up and cracking is not really controllable or foreseeable, hence adding a surprise element to my paintings. I’ve come to like these unplanned elements very much in my work – although I’m generally a perfectionist and diligent person who wants to be in control. To me, painting indeed is a good exercise in letting go!

The Japanese concept of “Wabi Sabi” is a huge inspiration for my work: it is the view or thought of finding beauty in every aspect of imperfection in nature.

The word “Wabi” expresses simplicity, impermanence, flaws and imperfection, while “Sabi” expresses the effect of time on a substance or any object. Together, “Wabi Sabi” embraces the idea of aesthetic appreciation of ageing, flaws and the beauty of the effects of time and imperfections.

It is a beautiful way of describing what is natural and pure and recognising the beauty of any substance or being in its most natural and raw form. In our Western world, where beauty is often artificial and idolizing a state of perfection that is rather unattainable and unnatural, it is more important than ever to be more open to other kinds of beauty, to embrace the beauty of flaws and rawness.

I begin with an idea. And then it becomes something else.

Pablo Picasso

However, the perfectionist in me usually has got an idea how I want to start, and sometimes I even do sketches to which I try to stick to when starting a new project, but ever so often, over time, the painting takes over and seems to create itself, layer by layer, creating depth and intensity in the process. That’s when the magic happens: when you as an artist let go, let your emotions speak through paint and pastes, and just let things happen on the canvas. That’s when the best and most surprising elements of a painting are born!

Being someone who loves to be outdoors and active, walking, running or gardening, I find my inspirations in nature – I’m fascinated by nature’s own and also man-made textures and structures, and I love earthly, rusty, calm colors that don’t stress the eye. For my works I mainly use acrylic colors and inks, rust, various modeling pastes and powders, as well as different media like cardboard, sand, ground coffee or sawdust, all on framed canvas, mostly with a 3.8 cm depth. It is important to me to integrate also the sides of the frames into the painting so that there is not necessarily a need for extra framing.

I was born in 1972 and am living and working in Neuss, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, with an incredibly supportive husband and two lovely cats. Apart from painting, I’m a passionate cook and host for friends, and also I enjoy reading or occasionally watching a TV series – or I am outdoors, finding new inspiration.

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